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McDONOUGH, Ga. - McDonough (Ga.) Henry County head coach Mike Rozier has had some good wide receivers under his watch over the past three seasons. In the class of 2008 he coached Chris Jackson, a three-star signee with Alabama who later transferred to Georgia Tech. Last season it was Jamal-Rashad Patterson, a four-star receiver that is already contributing at Stanford as a freshman. On Thursday, it was Rozier's third elite receiver that was in the spotlight.
Markeith Ambles, a 6-foot-2, silky smooth pass-catcher is officially a U.S. Army All-American. At a ceremony held at his high school in front of his coaches and teammates and with his family by his side, Ambles accepted the U.S. Army All-American invitation.
Based strictly on production, Ambles certainly passes the test of being worthy of All-American status. He caught 53 passes for 993 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior. However, seeing is believing with Ambles and his head coach has certainly seen some good ones in the past three seasons.
"This guy right here (Ambles) is real smooth, real fluid," Rozier said. "I'm not going to compare him to Jerry Rice but he's got that in him. I don't know what 'it' is but he's got it. He goes and gets the ball, runs great routes, but he's also a physical receiver. He's a great blocker and he could even go on the defensive side of the ball and play safety. He's just a great football player."
Ambles has gained a reputation as one of the most competitive players in the country, attending camp after camp and taking on all comers in an effort to prove that he is the best receiver in the nation. That competitive nature is one of the things that is driving him towards this game on a national stage. The Rivals100 prospect still feels he has some unfinished business.
"This gives me something to look forward to, to go compete with some guys around my talent in January so it's just making me work hard right now so I can show out later on," Ambles said. "I want to prove myself to get that fifth star. I always have to prove something. I'm not just going in there to play in it. It's going to be fun but I just have some things I've got to prove."
While the competition, the national stage and the festivities of the week are all things that Ambles will be looking forward to, the name behind this particular all-star game was not lost on the talented player who had other options for which game to participate in. Following in the footsteps of players like Reggie Bush, Tim Tebow, Eric Berry and Percy Harvin was important, as was the U.S. Army name itself.
"That's why I chose the game over the Under Armour Game," he said. "It's that I think it has more tradition and I'll get more out of it with the U.S. Army. That's why I chose this game."
While the live NBC broadcast of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl has become linked with hat ceremonies and commitment announcements, it's not likely that much drama will come from Ambles during the week of the game. He has been committed to the University of Tennessee since late July. However, he hasn't ruled out taking some official visits elsewhere.
"It's definitely a solid commitment but I'm probably going to take some visits," he said. "It'll probably be North Carolina, LSU, Alabama and probably Miami. I had talked to North Carolina about going the weekend they play Miami but I have something to do that weekend so I'm going to change it up. And I'm going to try to work something out with the other schools too."
Though Ambles has been on the Tennessee campus before, his official visit to Knoxville likely won't take place until after the season is over.
"I'm still solid but I just want to go and see if something catches my eye. I don't want to know that I didn't take a chance."